Sauber has confirmed that both Kamui Kobayashi
and Sergio Pérez will remain on-board at the Swiss outfit in F1 2012, with test and reserve driver Esteban Gutièrrez similarly staying put.
Between them, Kobayashi and Pérez have tallied nine points-scoring finishes from the opening ten grands prix of the present campaign, establishing Sauber firmly in sixth position in the constructors' standings at the midway stage. With Kobayashi catching the eye for his remarkable consistency – adding to the overtaking prowess and aggressive racecraft he had already ably demonstrated last year – and Pérez impressing many with his raw speed and mature head for a rookie, it is little surprise that both have been retained.
“We are very pleased with our drivers,” underlined the Hinwil-based operation's eponymous founder and team principal Peter Sauber. “Kamui has grown into his role extremely well this year. Though it is only his second full F1 season, he is already taking on the responsibilities that naturally fall to the more experienced driver in the team. We are delighted with him on both a sporting and a personal level. We had an option of working with him in 2012, and there was never any doubt that we would take it.
“Sergio has achieved more than one could expect from a rookie. From the very first race, he proved that he is capable of driving not only fast but consistently as well – and after the accident in Monaco, he demonstrated that he can handle difficult situations, too. From the outset, we had already signed a contract with Sergio that went beyond 2011. With a rookie that always entails a certain risk, of course, but clearly it has paid off.
“Esteban's career is advancing in steady strides. After his commanding [title] victory in GP3, it was a logical step for him to move up into GP2, where he has now taken his first win. He will then enter F1 when he is ready for it. For us, he has been a firm fixture of the team since 2010, and we will continue to support him on his way towards F1.”
The announcement was made on the eve of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix
at the Hungaroring, and has given both Kobayashi and Pérez a timely boost as they bid to head into F1's annual summer break off the back of a strong points-scoring finish there.
“I'm very proud that I can drive another year for this team, and I want to thank Peter Sauber and (CEO) Monisha Kaltenborn for putting their faith in me and the guys for all their work,” enthused the highly-rated Japanese ace. “In 2010, we had a very difficult season and some tough times. We managed to overcome this because we are a strong team.”
“I want to thank Peter and Monisha that they trust me,” echoed his Mexican team-mate. “Of course it is very good to have continuity, and this way I can intensively prepare with my race engineer for what will be my second F1 season – but for now, I'm concentrating on finishing this season on a high. The summer break will be very good for me, because since my accident in Monaco, it has been a busy time.”
Gutièrrez, for his part, is currently placed 14th in the feeder GP2 Series with Lotus ART, having claimed a dominant maiden victory in only his eighth race in the championship in the sprint outing in Valencia last month.
“I feel very fortunate and grateful to be able to continue my relationship with Peter Sauber and all the people in the team,” the 19-year-old confessed. “I have been working on my development with the help of the team's advice and on my racing in GP2 and other series. I look forward to increasing my skills in a very professional way so as to take the step into the highest level of motorsport with the necessary experience to keep up the same rhythm as in my career so far.”